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The Nature of the Divine Influence: From “The Guide for the Perplexed” by Maimonides (vegetarian), Part 2 of 2

2022-01-20
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Today, we will continue with reading selections from Part 2, Chapter 38, in Rabbi Moses ben Maimon’s book, “The Guide for the Perplexed,” to better understand the different degrees of influence of the Divine, as discoursed by the Rabbi.

CHAPTER 38 “Every man possesses a certain amount of courage, otherwise he would not stir to remove anything that might injure him. This psychical force seems to me analogous to the physical force of repulsion. Energy varies like all other forces, being great in one case and small in another. There are, therefore, people who attack a lion, whilst others run away at the sight of a mouse. One attacks a whole army and fights, another is frightened and terrified by the threat of a woman. This courage requires that there be in a man’s constitution a certain disposition for it. If man, in accordance with a certain view, employs it more frequently, it develops and increases, but, on the other hand, if it is employed, in accordance with the opposite view, more rarely, it will diminish.”

“For (all things are in a certain relation to each other, and) what is noticed in one thing may be used as evidence for the existence of certain properties in another, and the knowledge of one thing leads us to the knowledge of other things. But what we said of the extraordinary powers of our imaginative faculty, applies with special force to our intellect, which is directly influenced by the Active Intellect, and caused by it to pass from potentiality to actuality. It is through the intellect that the influence reaches the imaginative faculty. How then could the latter be so perfect as to be able to represent things not previously perceived by the senses, if the same degree of perfection were withheld from the intellect, and the latter could not comprehend things otherwise than in the usual manner, namely, by means of premiss, conclusion, and inference?”

“There were, therefore, men who supported their opinion by a dream which they had, thinking that the vision during sleep was independent of what they had previously believed or heard when awake. Persons whose mental capacities are not fully developed, and who have not attained intellectual perfection, must not take any notice of these (dreams). Those who reach that perfection may, through the influence of the Divine intellect, obtain knowledge independent of that possessed by them when awake. They are true prophets, as is distinctly stated in Scripture, ve-nabi lebab ḥokmah, ‘And the true prophet possesses a heart of wisdom.’”
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